“A dying art or the art of dying” was the opening statement by Sarah Osbourne of Tourism Angles who run the Visit Midsomer website (www.visitmidsomer.com) when she addressed local businesses at the Henley Midsomer Seminar to talk about the phenomenon of screen tourism and it’s affect on boosting the local economy.
Midsomer Murders has attracted 25-40,000 visitors to South Oxfordshire, spending around £2m. The seminar was hosted by Hotel du Vin in New Street which has been used for filming.
Sarah said, “40-50 businesses are now connecting to Midsomer and reporting 20-30% growth in this sector, year on year. People want to come and stay off the beaten track and visit the filming locations. Foreign visitors just love all things British and they want to see what ‘real’ England looks like.”
In Henley already, Neil Ainsworth at The Argyll pub has created his own Midsomer Ale and organises guided Midsomer Walks around the town which takes in the filming locations. These are starting again, every Saturday morning at 11am from 18 March. Asquiths Teddy Bear Ship sells Barnaby Bears and Hobbs of Henley offer Midsomer Cruises (26 July and 16 August 2017). You can also pick up a Midsomer Murders Walking Trail leaflet from the Henley Tourist Office.
Dan Hearn from Loddon Brewery have also brewed a beer called ‘Night of the Stag’ after the episode that was filmed at the brewey (which was turned into a cider factory for the episode). Dan told the delegates at the seminar, “It’s brilliant to have a Midsomer product. It is great brand recognition for the brewery. We have about a 100 people a week come to the brewery in the summer months. In 2012 when we first brewed the beer we sold 2,500 bottles and in 2016 we sold 12,000! We’re looking forward to the Midsomer film crew returning to the brewery in a couple of weeks for the next series.”
After the formal presentation, the delegates broke into small groups to come up with ideas that would build the Midsomer brand and increase visitors and visitor spend in Henley. Ideas included selling souvenirs and memorabilia, holding a special screening night, creating Barnaby buns like they have in Thame, adding Midsommer Murders to their websites and using social media.
Helen Barnett, Henley Town Manager said, “Henley is delighted to have such close connections to the Midsomer series. Midsomer commands a huge global audience. A great deal of these people are very keen to visit the area so we working with local companies to help them to promote their businesses and benefit from extra income generated by this ever growing audience.”